Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Melamine

found in baby formula sold in the United States.

The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that it had discovered the toxic chemical melamine in infant formula made by an American manufacturer, raising the possibility that the problem was more extensive in the United States than previously thought.

While few details were available late Tuesday, agency officials said they had discovered melamine at trace levels in a single sample of infant formula. It was also discovered in several samples of dietary supplements that are made by some of the same manufacturers who make formula.

F.D.A. officials insisted that the levels of melamine were so low that they did not pose a health threat.

“There’s no cause for concern or no risk from these levels,” said Judy Leon, an agency spokeswoman. Ms. Leon said the contamination was most likely the result of food contact with something like a can liner, or from some other manufacturing problems, but not from deliberate adulteration.

She declined to name the company that made the tainted infant formula.
Who is the FDA protecting by not naming the company? Not the American public. Not parents who might be unwittingly feeding their newborns tainted formula. Not the babies drinking possibly tainted formula.

But the FDA's abdication of its responsibilities goes beyond not telling the public the name of the company that produced tainted baby formula. The FDA has actually altered its position on melamine in baby formula. Note in the excerpt above that FDA officials said in the levels of melamine in the baby formula were so low that they did not pose a health threat. However, in a press release dated Oct. 3, 2008, the FDA said (emphasis mine):

FDA is currently unable to establish any level of melamine and melamine-related compounds in infant formula that does not raise public health concerns.

In large part, this is because of gaps in our scientific knowledge about the toxicity of melamine and its analogues in infants, including:

a. the consequences of the continuous use of infant formulas as the sole source of nutrition;
b. the uncertainties associated with the possible presence and co-ingestion of more than one melamine analogue; and
c. for premature infants with immature kidney function, the possibility that they may be fed these formulas as the sole source of nutrition and thus on a body weight basis experience greater levels of intake for a longer time than is experienced by term infants.

There is too much uncertainty to set a level in infant formula and rule out any public health concern. However, it is important to understand that this does not mean that any exposure to any detectable level of melamine and melamine–related compounds in formula will result in harm to infants.
It is also important to understand that it does not mean that any exposure to any detectable level of melamine and melamine–related compounds in formula WON’T result in harm to infants. What the FDA was saying is that, as of Oct. 3, 2008, it didn't know.

But now, less than two months after it issued that statement, the FDA apparently has identified a level of melamine in baby formula that does not raise public health concerns. And all it took was for melamine to show up in baby formula sold in the United States. A company (that the FDA declines to identify) produces baby formula with some melamine in it and voilà! there's suddenly a safe level of melamine in baby formula.

By the way, they're feeding this shit to livestock, too. For more, click here.

This post very easily could have been added to the post below, because eroding agencies established to protect public health and safety is just another part of the foul legacy of George W. Bush and, by extension, the foul legacy of the failed philosphy of conservatism.

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